Start to End @ Museum of the Moon, Glasgow, 12 May
Start to End tackle Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon on the Museum of the Moon's opening weekend and deliver a more than fitting tribute to Scott Hutchison
Situated in Maryhill and designed in 1896, Queen’s Cross Church is the only church designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh that was actually constructed. Now a century or so on, it's the home of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society and, for the next six weeks, it has been transformed into the Museum of the Moon, a new touring artwork from artist Luke Jerram.
Measuring seven metres in diameter and accurately depicting the surface of our satellite with surface imagery taken from NASA, it’s quite a prospect looming out of the darkness of the church like the Death Star. As a backdrop, our musical entertainers for the evening could scarcely ask for more.
To use the term tribute band is to elicit in your listener something of a shudder. It’s a combination that brings to mind bad wigs and an incessant aura of cheesiness only heightened by the need to invent a punning moniker – see the Antarctic Monkeys, Oasish and the Faux Fighters. Nowadays though, these copycats can also be big business, with the likes of the Bootleg Beatles pumping out the same reliable bag of best bits and selling out huge halls in their own right.
By contrast Start to End, a collective encompassing some of Scotland’s best musicians, keep things fresh by only pulling on one guise for a short time; previous stints have seen them tackle Daft Punk’s Discovery and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.
Tonight’s soundtrack is one of the most seminal albums of all time and one whose musings on the mental toll of stardom feel darkly prescient in the wake of Scott Hutchison’s sad departure. It’s no surprise that there are buckets for SAMH – the Scottish Association for Mental Health – in the foyer and a fitting mid-set tribute.
Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon is one of those records whose cultural weight extends far beyond the notes played. From the sound of cash registers that opens Money to the light splitting prism that crowns the most famous album cover of them all, there are few elements to Dark Side that haven’t been turned on their head over the years but Start to End play things straight, delivering an impeccable rendering of Floyd’s head-spinning masterpiece topped off with a skyscraping Great Gig in the Sky.
It’s moments like these, when a vocalist breathes in for one more lungful or a hand grasps a drumstick a little tighter, which remind you that Dark Side is not just a museum piece, it’s a living record that has attained its vaunted status through that most important ingredient of all: human connection. As Eclipse ripples away, the band briefly depart the stage, pause, and return for a pair of tracks from Dark Side’s follow-up.
As the audience stand and applaud, it’s the always evocative Wish You Were Here and an aching Shine on You Crazy Diamond – Pink Floyd’s tribute to their own lost boy Syd Barrett – which can’t help but feel like a goodbye for another hero closer to home.
Whether it’s bright Technicolor or the dark side of the moon, it’s remarkable to see that human connection in action and a reminder to cherish records like these and the artists who make them possible.